The Reykjanes Fires

Now that Fagradallsfjall has finally erupted it is clear that a new eruptive period has initiated in the Reykjanes Peninsula, we can expect many more eruptions to come in the following few centuries, but what should we expect? and what about the eruption that has already started?

The last time the Reykjanes Peninsula was active was during a series of eruptions, roughly in the 950-1240 year period. Although there were people around, there was of course no one to take scientific notes,  so the information is very sketchy. In an attempt to fill the lost history I have looked at a couple of lava flows in Google Earth and tried to interpretate their origin. And how do I do that?

Volcanic landforms reflect the kind of eruptions that created them, for example the height of a lava fountain is about the same as the diameter of the top of the cone that it creates. There are also various types of lava flows, pahoehoe sheets, aa sheets, tube-fed pahoehoe, toothpaste lavas, raised lava channels and ponds, all of this together, and with the relationship between the various features, the volume and complexity of the lava flow, it can give clues as to how the eruption happened.

Before getting into the individual eruptions I should mention the two general progressions that fissure eruptions generally follow.

 

Two types of fissure eruptions

We are used to used to seeing Piton de la Fournaise, Kilauea, Galapagos, or Bardarbunga erupt, their fissure eruptions follow one general pattern. First, the curtain of fire, when a long fissure bursts into a chain of lava fountains and for a short time the highest eruption rates are reached. Then the eruption focuses into one or a few vents and stays there, the effusion rate falls exponentially until it stops, or it enters a prolonged phase of slow activity at just a few cubic meters per second. From a curtain of fire to a single vent is the typical sequence of a fissure eruption.

However there is another important end member, this is a somewhat rare type and not many examples come into my mind, but there is a big one, the Timanfaya eruption of 1730-36 on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands. This is a very dramatic case, but that’s why it’s a good end-member example.

Timanfaya started from one single vent initially, but then over the following 6 years, the focus of activity kept shifting from one vent to another, countless times. By the time it was over there were many vents lined up in a row, so that it looked like a fissure, but no one would have thought that when it started. There was no clear reduction in activity either, it just kept going, a terrible deluge of ashes and lava with no end in sight.

It’s not easy to tell apart the two types from looking at moss covered lava flows from ages ago, however, I do get the impression eruptions of Brennisteinsfjöll and Hengill may follow the Timanfaya type, whilst eruptions of Svartsengi follow the curtain of fire type, I’m not sure about the others.

And now, with that explained, we should start where the Reykjanes Fires started, with Brennisteinsfjöll.

 

Brennisteinsfjöll eruptions. ~950 AD.

There are four different historic lava flows in the Brennisteinsfjöll fissure swarm. All of them formed in slow eruptions, from fissures that were less than 500 meters long with one to a few active vents, and fountains that only reached up to 100 meters high at most. From what I’ve seen each of the flows must have been erupted in a period longer than a month.

Hellnahraun is an example of a very slow eruption. Lava moved inside lava tubes, it inflated from within and formed many small breakouts of glassy pahoehoe lavas. It was the sort of activity that was typical in the Pu’u’o’o eruption of Kilauea. Lava reached what is now the small coastal town of Hafnarfjörður, on the outer edge of Greater Reykjavik. Taking into account the volume of around 46 million cubic meters, and effusion rates that must have been in the range of lava tube eruptions, 1-10 m3/s, I estimate the eruption most likely lasted around a few months.

Example of pahoehoe lava breakouts. From Wikimedia.

 

Another nearby flow, Húsfellsbruni, was possibly the longest and most voluminous eruption of the Reykjanes Fires. It forms an extensive apron of lava flows that is extremely complex. It was hard to understand its origin story because at places there are as many as 4 or 5 flow sheets that seem to lie on top of each other. The eruption involved mostly channelized flows and aa sheet flows, but there were also lava tubes, ponds, inflation plateaus, and toothpaste lavas.

Toothpaste lavas, also called rubbly or spiny pahoehoe, are a higher viscosity form of pahoehoe. Although Reykjanes lava flows have a very low viscosity the cooling lavas within the core of aa flows can erupt again from breakouts and form fields of toothpaste lavas, these look a bit like a mix of pahoehoe and aa.

Lobe of toothpaste lavas formed in the Húsfellsbruni eruption, it is shaped like the roots of a plant.

The volume of the Húsfellsbruni lava flow is hard to estimate because of how complex it is, however I wouldn’t be surprised if it came close to or exceeded 1 cubic kilometre. This eruption I’d say most likely lasted one to a few years. There is also the question of whether the historic lava flows of Brennisteinsfjöll represent separate eruptions, or rather just stages in a long eruption with a shifting focus of activity.

Example of a lava tube skylight. Every Brennisteinsfjöll eruption had some of them. From USGS.

 

Svínahraunsbruni. ~1000 AD.

This eruption happened between Brennisteinsfjöll and Hengill in an unnamed fissure swarm. There are three lava flows that are considered historic, according to the geologic map I’m following. They lie close to each other with vents that line up.

Each of the flows issues from a fissure that is only 250-500 meters long. One fissure is unnamed and seems to have had only weak spattering and a very small flow.  Two bigger flows issue from fissure vents called Nyrðri and Syðri respectively, and both had lava fountains that probably reached 50-80 meters high at some point, issuing mainly from 1 or 2 vents. Syðri erupted on top of Nyrðri.

Nyrðri craters feeding a lava channel. This eruption happened around 1000 AD. From Google Earth.

It is hard to know if they formed in one or multiple eruptions. If we follow the Timanfaya model it could have been an eruption with three stages in which the vent focus shifted, but it can’t be ruled out that they were different eruptions altogether.

I shall describe Nyrðri, the biggest flow. Most of the time the lava erupted from a single circular spatter cone, bubbling up or making low fountains that spilled into a lava channel 30 meters wide. Lava streamed down this channel, raised above the ground with flanks covered in shiny pahoehoe. The channel shifted its path a few times throughout the eruption. The lava was channelized for 2.5 kilometres, then it was distributed over a branching system of blocky aa lobes and toothpaste lava outbreaks.

Example of a raised lava channel with pahoehoe overflows. From Wikimedia.

 

Considering the three lava flows as stages of one eruption then the volume is 110 million m3. I thought eruption rates of 10-20 m3/sec were reasonable for its level of activity, that gives a duration of 65-130 days. This is a guess. The flows may have formed in separate eruptions, but still most likely the duration would be in the range of one to a few months.

Aa lava flow with a folded surface and toothpaste lavas around the edges. Syðri eruption. From Google Earth.

 

Eruptions of Trölladyngja and Krýsuvík. 1151-1188

Fire is reported near Trölladyngja mountain in 1151 and again in 1188. These reports probably refer to three historic age lava flows that exist in this area. Of these, Ögmundarhraun and Kapelluhraun were large eruptions. Each formed large lava channels running into the ocean in opposite sides of the Peninisula. The other smaller flow was short lived and may have been part of the Ögmundarhraun eruption; their fissure systems line up too.

These lava flows, as well as many other prehistoric eruptions of both Trölladyngja and Krýsuvík, are stronger than those of Brennisteinsfjöll and Hengill: they erupt curtains of fire with tens of lava fountains bursting at once over a length sometimes exceeding 1 kilometre, and very rarely some fountains can reach up to 200 meters height.

1984 Krafla eruption, the Kapelluhraun lava flow from Krisuvik volcano may have looked similar.

In the eruption of Ögmundarhraun intermittent fissures opened over a length of 9 kilometres, I don’t know if there was an initial phase of fire curtains affecting the entire length or if the various segments were activated at different times. The vents opened along the valley of Mohalsadalur, flooding the entire floor. Lava poured in rapids where the valley was narrow, and then dived below the smooth brilliant crust of lava lakes that collected where the valley was flat and wide.  Lava entered the ocean in massive flows of aa lavas. It seems the system of winding channels extending towards the coast reorganized multiple times, so it was probably a lasting feature and a significant volume of lava must have ended up underwater.

In the late stages of the eruption activity had focused in a 500 meter long fissure, on the order of 10 fountains were playing to low heights, or some perhaps up to 50 meters, their streams merged into a singular mighty river slowly flowing towards the ocean 6 kilometres away. The flow broke into two branches, each half a kilometre wide, and entered the ocean 2 km from each other, amidst what must have been boiling seawater, dead fish, and towering columns of snow-white steam.

Example of an ocean entry like those of Kapelluhraun and Ögmundarhraun. From USGS.

It seems difficult to make any guesses about the volume or duration of Ögmundarhraun, other than it must have lasted more than a few days, but could have been much more, and that the volume must be more than 100 million cubic metres.

 

Eruptions of Svartsengi and Reykjanes. 1210-1240 AD.

We arrive to the last volcanoes of the Reykjanes Peninsula as we travel westward together with the migrating activity of the Reykjanes Fires. These two fissure swarms produce intense eruptions with curtains of fire similar to those of Trölladyngja and Krýsuvík, or even more intense. For example, one prehistoric eruption included a kilometre long unbroken curtain of fountains shooting to heights of 100-200 meters.

Example of a fire curtain, a line of fountains, which are probably frequent in Svartsengi eruptions, the lava flow is a sheet of pahoehoe which typically forms in eruptions of >100 m3/s. From USGS.

Svartsengi produced three lava flows, Arnarseturshraun, Illahraun and Eldvarpahraun, I will focus on the first two, which I think are parts of the same eruption.

Illahraun erupted from a 200 meters long fissure, but the eruption was very intense. An area of 8 km2 was rapidly flooded by a sheet of molten pahoehoe lavas, including the present location of the Blue Lagoon. The surface flowed as a mass of crustal plates carried by the molten rock below, as it moved the slabs clashed against each other lifting into broken ridges.

The cones that fed the eruption barely have any prominence and the flow is one simple sheet, this is all probably because the outbreak was very short lived. The total volume was 38 million cubic metres and eruption rates must have been on the order of hundreds of cubic meters per second, so that the effusion can’t have lasted much more than a few days. Illahraun however may have taken place concurrently with the opening of fissures along the same line to the northeast which fed the longer lived Arnarseturshraun flow.

Arnarseturshraun must have opened with a line of fountains and a rapid outpouring of pahoehoe lavas, although this initial stage is largely buried under later activity. The eruption rate declined progressively. For some time a raised lava channel kept supplying lava towards the north which fed a massive slowly advancing wall of aa lava, crustal plates from the initial lava flood as large as hundreds of meters across were rafted downstream and collided with each other raising up meters high ridges of rubbly scoria, much like tectonic plates that collide to form mountain ranges. Activity kept decreasing and some more lava channels were formed to the north, however activity focused more and more around the vents.

Large crustal plates in the Arnarseturshraun lava flow, they are separated by ridges of broken up lava. From Google Earth.

Because the ground is mostly flat, lava had ponded around the fountains of the Arnarseturshraun lavas, this evolved into three lava lakes raised slightly above the ground by overflows, the largest with a triangular shape and 200 meters wide. Small fountains and dome fountains probably played in the lakes and distributed lava over an intricate system of channel and lava tubes leading up to small lava flows nearby. It is clear that this must have been long lasting, more than a few weeks, but it is hard to know how long.

Example of a raised lava lake, similar to the lakes of Arnarsetur. From USGS.

Lastly the historical records mention some submarine eruptions offshore Reykjanes, or by the coastline. An eruption in 1211 formed new islands, called Eldeyjar, meaning islands of fire. An eruption in the winter of 1226-27 is said to have produced darkness at midday, it must have been an explosive phreatomagmatic eruption with ashfall. New eruptions happened in 1231, 1238 and 1240. This last event was the final of the Reykjanes Fires and then the whole region entered a prolonged dormancy that was only broken now that Fagradallsfjall has erupted.

 

The future

The story of older eruptions can help understand what is to come. I can now make some general predictions. For example, if Reykjanes of any offshore volcano erupts it might be explosive phreatomagmatic and ashy, if Svartsengi erupts it will start with a very intense eruption with curtains of fire and be followed by an exponential drop in effusion rates, but if Brennisteinsfjöll or Hengill erupt then expect slow eruptions at near constant rates.

Problem is that the current eruption doesn’t belong to any of these volcanoes, in fact it opened in a very strange location and it turns out the magma is coming straight from the mantle. According to scientists this is quite extraordinary, and extraordinary magmas bring fantasies of extraordinary eruptions.

There is one very rare type of Icelandic eruption known as a lava shield, or a dyngja. These eruptions are thought to feed from primitive magma from great depths, and they are not associated with the shallow magma chambers of central volcanoes that feed the large fissure eruptions. Many commenters have already been discussing that we may be witnessing the birth of a shield volcano, Irpsit I think was the first to mention the possibility. The reason to think this is that the magma is from the mantle and the vent has opened outside the fissure swarms. A shield is a huge eruption that produces multiple cubic kilometres and lasts decades, it is a slow tourist-friendly eruption with lava tubes and inflated pahoehoe flows. The magma coming from the mantle is certainly a good sign, the last time an eruption came from the mantle was in Mayotte… 5 km3 or more, and still going. But while it’s true that shields erupt magma that is very primitive, it is not true that every eruption that brings out primitive stuff is going to be a shield.

Sandfellshæð, a lava shield of the Reykjanes Peninsula, formed 14,000 years ago, it seems to have had a lava lake or shallow sill intrusions, or more likely both, at its summit. It is cut by normal faults from many grabens that form when dykes intrude. From Google Earth.

So far the Fagradallsfjall eruption has followed a similar pattern to those of Brennisteinsfjöll and Hengill, a short fissure eruption at a slow steady rate. If it is similar in the other respects, the eruption should probably last on the order of some months, but it could also last years if it is a large eruption like Húsfellsbruni, or even decades if it becomes a dyngja. If it is Timanfaya-like then dyke activity may keep going and new vents could open elsewhere as much as months or years from now.

We shall see what comes to be of Fagradallsfjall, but in the meantime we can understand the eruption from a much more full perspective knowing about previous fissure eruptions of the Reykjanes Peninsula in their rich variety.

Hector

559 thoughts on “The Reykjanes Fires

  1. I just done something very dangerous, no it is not visiting mordor… though it does sound fun. I have been thinking… sorry. I have come up with a potential hypothesis, if I am talking rubbish tell me.

    Could we be seeing a reawakening of seismic and volcanic activity beyond Iceland but across Europe/Eurasian plate as a whole?

    On the pacific plate, please correct me if I am wrong, seismic activity in New Zealand as we are seeing at the moment causes seismic activity to occur elsewhere on the plate. Japan is currently rather active, more than usual it seems. Waiting for the San Andreas fault… Why couldn’t the same happen on the Eurasian plate?

    Could the current rifting and reawakening of the Rekyjanes peninsular, have a bearing on the seismic activity that is happening in Greece at the moment?

    Are there any charts that could potentially back this up? Is there any correlation in timing and accounts from seismic activity in and around Eastern Mediterranean and the last eruptive cycle in Rekyjanes?

    • well, welcome to the club! i said that since the big quake…and in my opinion that’s the answer for the event itself. Consider this…african plate start to bump european plate (its a cycle of about 20 years, I read somewhere, after that the asian plate bump the eu, so on…)..Then, the african plate push is covered by gibraltar seismic unrest (steady small eq), etna hiper activity, an N african alger eg 5,.., after adriatic see eq….and of course the eu plate react on opposite, kinda billiard balls effect,…iceland,..some svalbard eq. Now that-s the trick..iceland…if eu plate is going north, the soth of iceland unizip…e voila…dyke and lava chanel… Tha’s my opinion…nobody comment on up till now and of course I”m not a seismologist but just looking at emsc interactive map for years..

      • I am definitely not a seismologist or volcanologist either. Logically, if you have rifting at one end, then collisions are inevitable elsewhere.

  2. I missed watching yesterday. What is that big hump of ‘land/lava’ that has appeared in the lava lake in front of the cones? It looks smallish in the Mila cam but quite huge in the mbl.is cam. I found a great photo of the valley from the viewpoint of the Mila cam a couple of days ago – maybe on here – and I thought I saved it but can’t find it now.

  3. 1/3 The volcanic #eruption in Geldingadalir has now been ongoing for nine days. The lava is basaltic and highly fluid with little explosive activity. It is a very small eruption and the lava flow has been steady at 5-7 m3/s since its onset.

    2/3 Currently the extent of the lava field is within Geldingadalur, if the #eruption keeps at a similar rate, it is modeled that the lava will flow east towards Merardalur valley. If the volcano continues to erupt it could end up being categorized as a shield volcano.

    3/3 Shield volcanoes are generally formed over long time periods with lava fields extending from a few to several kilometers around its source. There is no way to tell how long the eruption will last.
    https://twitter.com/Vedurstofan/status/1376514562195914754

    • The lava is very very fluid indeed! Perhaps even a sizable bit more fluid than Holuhraun that too was a very fluid eruption at Baugur vent.

      The lava is very shiney and smooth now in daylight a sign that viscosity is very low indeed and its suggestive of the 1210 C temperatures. Its also forming nice pahoehoe without roughness close to the vents.

      Webcam here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XkkuxbZAq30

    • possibly dumb question: all my times are that -ve (negative) time format, how do i look at 11:30 on ruv.is stream??

  4. It’s very hard to say. Because the Phivolcs seismograms and other real time scientific data remain unavailable to the public, it is really very hard to tell what is going on under the volcano. Do you know if a stay at home order is in force around Batanga?

    • Oh wow, this was an answer on a comment by Son Pudong on the current Taal activity way up in the comment line….

  5. I just observed lava spurting up from the lava field all the way to the right on the mbl camera. Amazing that it’s so fluid at such a distance from the vent.
    Also had a group of gurning tourists pulling faces for the camera. Anyone been mooned/flashed at yet?

    • I suffered a drunk a couple of nights ago. He tried to do some dancing (which was very funny to watch because it was so awful) and peered into the camera. Perhaps they ought to raise the camera up?

  6. Spent the last hour or so watching the RUV feed….it seems like activity (if anything) is increasing based on the flow rates escaping each of the crater lakes. Fascinating to watch the periodic landslides/collapses coming down/off the crater rims (both). At 14:32:40, (in the last 15 minutes) just watched a large block of rim collapse into the west vent. (Since the RUV camera is pointed SSE, for the sake of simplicity I’ve nicknamed the left vent as “east” and the right one “west”). As the block fell into the lava lake, it created a sorta “seiche” of lava that overtopped the lower rim and raced down the flank and onto the growing lava plain.
    Really cool being able to watch this sort of behavior in real time….definitely “class is in session”.
    https://www.ruv.is/frett/2021/03/20/beint-vefstreymi-fra-eldstodvunum

    • Only the most seasoned volcaphile wouldn’t be impressed with Etna’s amazing eruptions the past few months. It doesn’t even have my desired magma and I’m impressed!

    • I read somewhere,the Village of Grindavík has the honour of naming this volcano, it is Icelandic tradition that the closest village names it, the villagers are debating the name at the moment and we will be told soon-ish.

  7. Big collapse at 16:40:20. Small ash-cloud throw up and the fountain is jetting in a different direction.

  8. The RUV camera keeps blanking out again.

    Why does this happen, and how can I stop it?

    • Go there and install a very long ethernet cable? 🙂

      But seriously problem is at their end not yours.

  9. Is it possible that we can control the webcam of Rúv? If we know the IP address, username and password of this webcam, we can control it in the web browser.

  10. For the first time, during daylight, I saw an interesting fact> in lower part of ruv camera, some lava area got spattering efect….how come this?? is the lava fluid efect? do not look alike flames…

  11. Another collapse of the left vent a few minutes ago, pushing the fountain back the other direction. It is furiously trying to dig itself out from the rubble. Both collapses have elevated the level of outpouring lava, seems like this is the process that will continue to grow the new spatter cone for a while.

  12. I am curious to the physics driving this ‘bubbling’ pot of lava. It has its own miniature fountain! Flow dynamics from the lava under the crust?

    • I wish I could edit posts. The pot I circled has gone, but there are plenty of others. I’m curious as to how they are so dynamic.

      • The crust is getting quite thick and does not overturn anymore. When the lava does finally break through, you get decompression and the gas comes out of the lava, as in a bottle of premature-opened cola. That gives a sudden small fountain. I has happened at various locations today where there is lava flowing below the surface.

        • I just imagine that degasing should be like a spouf with more or less fire flames but all these are heavy lava bubling….so ok, due to degasing is fountaning and lava spitting…but aint this a prouve that at so far from source the lava still boiling alot? kinda boiling under a crust? kinda a lava lake with a crust? what if and when will reach that critical mass point to become a hot living lava pool?

        • There was a HUGE overturning event visible on the RUV cam a couple hours ago. It started near the bottom of the camera view (or beyond) and spread toward the cones. Eventually a goodly area of crust disintegrated and new crust formed, extending across maybe the middle third of the image horizontally and extending from the bottom edge of the field of view over halfway to the coneberg.

  13. The lava is really superfluid now… as smooth and shiney as Hawaii is

    • The tags are not needed, but you need to link to the image itself rather than a web wrapper. You used the link (imgur.com/Us1Mftl) which gives a page containing lots more than just the image. WP will always block that. The link to image itself is (i.imgur.com/Us1Mftl.png) which may or may not work depending what WP feels like but at least you have a chance!

      note added: in some cases wp will display the link to the web page wrapper, in other cases not. So it is not correct that WP will always block that. Youtube links work, but imgur does not unless you specify the .png link

        • That was part of the cone wall that collapsed last night ..
          Caused a surge in the lava lake when it went ..

          • Will we see how it slowly sinks down because buoyancy effects of the fluid lava beneath it? Or is the effect of the buoyancy too small in liquid lava vs. solid lava because it is fare to young (not well oxidized, so too light) or not compressed enough (also too light)?

            It’s made of many small lava ejections, not like the lava rivers outflows, so it has most likely a higher porosity and a larger surface which would be good for a faster aging (oxidation), don’t know which side of the balance wins…but it would explain the different look (sorry I’m still not familiar enough with toothbrush, pu… or Aa lava).

          • Toothpaste, not brush… *rofl*

            (all the time this Freudian slips or parapraxis (plu.?), oversxxed and underfxxed my diagnosis, yeah the second one is the problem)

    • Is it true that the color of the gas cloud changed this morning to a more brownish hue? Maybe some ash there? Or a change in the gas composition? Connections with the small bubble outbreaks in the lava? Also, btw., did anybody yet suggest naming the shield volcano after the first person in the cafe who discovered it…?

      • There may have been some brownish hue in it from the sides of the crater(s) collapsing back into the lava pool. The time I have been streaming the RUV cam it has been the usual bluish hue to it (well at least until dusk)

        As for your naming question, the town of Grindarvik has zoning controll over the farmland on which the volcano erupted, and per Icelandic laws that town has the final say on what it will be named. The Town council is engaging in a resident survey on what to name the volcano/lava field/eruption, nothing official regarding the actual name has been brought forth. There has been word that there are some townsfolk that wanted to incorporate the farm’s name into the final name, which ironically is named Hraun (Lava). Other unoffical suggestions have been Fagrahraun, Geldingadyngja (just for the -dingading sound)

    • I can not remember that correctly-gelding, like a castrated horse-geldingadalir

      • And the valley it will spill over into also has horse related name, Meradalir…
        Geldingadalir = Geldings’ Valleys
        Meradadalir = Mares’ Valleys

          • I honestly do not know, my family dealt with sheep and dairy (and puffins, and eider birds) but not horses… And those names are old.. Maybe it has something to do with the stallion not letting the geldings get to close?

          • Typically you would feed the mares better than the geldings, they have to produce young. The geldingsvalley would be poorer pasture.

          • It is even poorer pasture now. I love how everyone here knows something that no one else knows, and is happy to share.

          • They are kept apart because male horses are very territorial and keep mares in hareems by biting and kicking, which uses up lots of energy needed for growth and work, not to mention the wastage through injury and disease.
            Males are gelded unless required for breeding stock to make them more manageable. Horses were very important, with significant roles in Norwegian mythology and Icelandic Sagas; used as a food source as well as transport and farm work.
            I was horse mad as a child…

        • The -a- ending in Geldinga and Mera denotes the genitive plural case. The same ending is also used in the genitive plural case of both Old English and Old Frisian.

    • Yay! Finally a decent view of the valley exit. Those ants are walking very close, it can’t be extending there yet. It’s been frustrating, waiting for a good look behind the cones. Or should they be called ramparts or armchairs? They are quite cwm/corrie/cirque-like.

        • There seem to be three possible exits, this north-eastern one is the lowest elevation, so most likely to overflow.

  14. Look after me at webcams ; )

    If you see a small pale .. crawling figure .. Thats hissing .. fanaticaly happly yet hissing crawling towards the erupting vents .. .. cough .. gollum!!! gollum!!
    Shhhhhheeeeeeeäääääässss coughing
    Slowly crawling up the cone .. towards my precious.. that I wants to see so much
    The terrifyingly strong grip grasp the loose spatter .. slowly crawling upwards

  15. Does anyone know if someone (university or government) is 3d mapping the Geldindalir valley depression in order to obtain a daily volumetric estimate of the emplaced lava? I know that 5 m^3/sec is the common figure used for lava flow, but a true volumetric measurement would nail things exactly.

      • The data points do not look like actual measurements but like extrapolations. The error bars do not match the scatter.

        • True, it’s still probably the closest we get of such measurments at the moment. Unless IMO has info they don’t share.

          • IMO seems very open. But they would not release data they are unsure off, as releasing data implies they have validated it.

      • From time to time I have seen a fixed-wing aircraft making repeated passes north-south over the lava field. The last set was just before I watched University Challenge this evening, which started at 8.30pm BST.
        I don’t know who is surveying, but someone definitely is.
        Thanks for the link, I’ll have a look later.

        • As well as survey flights there are undoubtedly pilots simply flying over to see what is going on and there are probably charter flights too. This morning a Boeing 767 made a couple of passes over the site at 2000ft before flying off to the east.(showed on Flightradar24).

  16. HVO is marking sub 1 magnitude quakes west of the Mauna Loa caldera. Most of them in-between 3 and 5 K deep. There were two shallow quakes imbedded with them. This little swarm started at around 12:30 today.
    2021-03-29 13:22:52 2.5 -1.7
    2021-03-29 13:05:18 0.9 4.7
    2021-03-29 13:00:58 2.4 -3.6

  17. Eruption keeps going ..two fountains feeding skinned over rootless lava lakes and ponds. The lava is getting increasingly fluid and smooth.

    But its still not a lava shield yet ..
    That will be a very intresting development when it turns to lava lakes and buried lava tubes

    • Thank you for sharing. It now makes total sense; this is the origin of the new stranded lavaberg in front of the mbl.is camera position.
      Or should that be coneberg? Spatterberg?

  18. Albert, is it possible to have a PHP style forum? There is sooo much wonderful discussion (and educating cloth-eared muppets like me) about all the activity at the moment it is hard to keep up.

    • There’s an official WordPress plugin called bbPress which adds basic forum support. Not the “prettiest” of forum software but is functional and has a minimal learning curve for admins already familiar with wordpress.

      If interesting current eruptions were to become the norm rather than the exception it might be worth trying as a simple option to experiment with if admins were so inclined.

    • I think this may be one of my favourites so far (apart from the live streams, of course). So many questions answered about the landscape setting and what is beyond the webcams.
      I’ve saved this one to study.

        • But this takes the biscuit:

          “inflow into the inflow flow seems to be more or less the same as the outflow from the crater.”

        • lava maggots must be one of the more surprising aspects of this eruption. The other is the suggestion that a 10-day old eruption could continue for 500 years!

  19. What on earth is going on in the RUV cam? A procession? Lots of camera lights walking in a line around the back of the cones… ?!

  20. Dungeons… (and Dragons, I used to play that game aeons ago) I feel the need for a +1 mace…

    • Pretty please could a friendly dragon move this dungeons comment to be inserted directly below Clive’s maggot comment? Thanks muchly.

  21. Was the case of “flames” in the middle vent (when there were still 3) ever resolved as to what was actually being observed?

    It looks to me like the flames are back if you watch the top right corner of the right vent, they appear to flare up once in a while.

    • No! We are open to suggestions. Hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide and carbon has been suggested so far.

      • Carbon monoxide, it was said that this vent has a high concentration of CO which was given as a sign of its deep mantle origin. I think maybe that is still in a rather small amount, but CO is also formed by reacting carbon with CO2 at a high temperature, which could happen here. It also burns very clean so no smoke, I think it is actually impossible for CO to have incomplete combustion in oxygen by its very nature…

        • Correct. CO is the product of incomplete combustion. Further oxidation only leads to CO2 which is the product of complete combustion of carbon.

  22. One more observation from me, and then I’ll return to lurking.
    It seems that the left vent had managed to excavate the debris that filled and raised the level of lava in the collapse events. I would guess that the extreme here and fountaining pressure combined is what allowed that to happen, if there are other things at play here I would love to learn about them.

    • Please don’t re-lurk. Your questions are very apposite and relevant. I’m really interested in the answers.

      *says she who generally only de-lurks when Iceland or Hawaii awakens from slumber*

        • Hahaha! I found Volcanocafe on the back end of the Bob Restinga event, via comments on the 3D earthquake tool that someone maintained (apologies, I can’t recall their name, the tool was bigur or something, the trials of getting older!).
          When Bardy started to wake, I lurked long-time before my enthusiasm overpowered my reticence of interacting with volcano dragons.
          Once Holuhraun finished, life got in the way as it tends to do, and I lurked until 2018, and a flying visit (literally!) to Pu’u O’o in February, days before everything went mad. (I can highly recommend Hawaii Tracker for its superb coverage and community response to the crisis.)
          Volcanocafe moved home, and I neglected to register again until a few days ago. I’m using the same handle as before.

          Life has moved on, and as I’m no longer a wage slave (yay!) I have more time to indulge my geomorphology addiction.

  23. Right now that is a strange degasing manifestation. On k100 cam in the left of the cones is an area with heavy bubbling, wasn’t there a former vent? now submerged in lava pond, could that be active?

  24. Looks like fountains gotten a bit higher
    It may explain the more sluggish nature of the lava river now .. as higher fountains means more tephra cooling

    But If eruptive rates increase then the lava ponds will flow smoother again too.
    Still not a lava shield yet .. just spatter cones feeding channels and lava ponds

  25. Albert (or anyone else) is there an article already planned for this week, I have something to submit and it is actually complete this time… 🙂

    • Please submit. It will be looked at, minor edited if needed and if any more substantial edits are needed you will be asked for them. We can’t guarantee a particular time slot, but it shouldn’t take too long

  26. Coffee #3. The drain men are already at work. Crise there were initially 3 vents. I think you are right the smaller 3rd vent was buried but now I see lava emerging left of the lower ( middle) vent. I shall watch that with interest as the drain work progresses here.

    • Ever thaught of calling Archibald Harry Tuttle for the drain work? Also, did you fill out a 27b/6 form?

      Quakes of today and yesterday (nice little very short lived swarm in the east this morning):

    • for a second i thought You were talking about 3 vents at Your place…(3 vents? How does that work?) hahahahha

      • Hi Mots! I wish we had even one vent here. Drain men cannot find the pipe Mutterings about Victorian drains. It seems our outhouses hold strange and mysterious subterranean chambers. The main pipe just disappears. I hope the brickwork holds up!!!! Husband at work is sounding more and more depressed as it is possible the initial quote may be far less than the end costs! I have a vain hopes that a) the outhouses don’t fall down b) The drain is found in reasonable condition so it can be relined and c) we find hidden treasures in the excavations worth enough to pay the costs!!

      • There has been lots of bubbling degassing at various spots around the pond.
        I also spotted one or maybe two holes pouring lava in that area between 8ish and 9ish am. It’s difficult to check as that area is in shadow now. If there’s any flow, it’s hidden.

  27. Im so happy we will get a lava shield!
    With luck it may grow larger than Puu Oo
    But it will not grow as large as Thjeistareykjahraun thats one of the largest, the largest holocene mono shield on the planet.

    Still Fagradalsfjall will be an ideal tourist magnet

    • Will take decades to get as big as Pu’u O’o though, that is the nature of these shields. There are other possibilities though on what this could become… 🙂

      • A big part of Puu Oo s hills height is not from shield building thats from the many episodes of huge fountains in the 80 s it took a very long time for that to be draped in silvery Pahoehoe .. But of Course the pahoehoe piles on top and around it are very massive

        Did the enormous Icelandic monogenetic shields start like Puu Oo?

        • I recall reading on here a long time ago that Carl said Theistareykjarbunga began as a flood basalt, but theres no evidence of a flow like that on http://jardfraedikort.is/
          None of the shields would have started that big I think, eruptions of that scale generate very long flows that the shields likely wouldnt be able to bury, only Trolladyngja at Bardarbunga has this configuration, it sits on top of the massive Bardahalshraun but they have both been dated and are a few millennia apart so it is just a coincidence…

          Shields in Iceland seem to be different to shields in Hawaii on Kilaueas east rift. Shields at Kilaueas summit are more comparable I think, and if its current eruption is the possible beginning of one then they dont necessarily begin with high fountains like the rift shields.

    • The lava flows pahoehoe will mostly be stuck inside the Mountains filling valleys and overflowing.. will take a long time to flow out on the coastal Plains If this really turns to a long lived pahoehoe tube Shield Event.
      Me and my mother will soon visit the eruption.. and oboy.. I will be Gollum – Happy .. crawling to the vents

  28. Giphy shrank my gif, but you can see movement of the collapsed cone wall heap over the course of 45 minutes thins morning on the mbl camera.

    • I thought I had noticed that on the RUV cam last night, had it streaming on my TV when I went out and when I got back in it few hours later it was still streaming (because I apparently don’t know how to turn off my tv) and the thing looked further away

    • I’ve notice that too but I thought that’s just a hint of tired eye…for the moment I give it a reason, maybe its slowly slide just because all lava field is still warm an jelly….than I said neah….

      • I think it’s behaving like an iceberg, pushed into a bay and grounding in the shallows. It’s possible that the rise and fall of the surface, due to surges and degassing shrinkage, is re-
        floating the spatterberg and the fluid movement is enough to gradually shift it.

  29. Activity in Iceland seems to have slowed,probably only for a while. The dark, chaotic surface surrounding the vents looks very similar to my back yard at present. Black mud instead of lava.At least it’s not hot and destructive and isn’t slowly creeping out of the yard! How are your drains doing Albert?

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